A CHAT WITH KRISTY BEDI
How did Aho Creative get its start?
My background’s in Māori design and development. I was interested in creative, beautiful things – particularly textiles … how they’re produced, and how that tells a story as well as the things printed on them. When I was pregnant with our first child, I was looking for something creative that felt authentic and real to wrap her in, and I couldn’t find anything. I finally realised that if I wanted something, I was going to need to make it myself! My husband, Achan, is originally from India – so that was our connection to start production there (as I soon realised that I couldn’t do everything myself!).
What’s your creative/production process?
It always starts with design – that’s my first love. So the patterns, the colour story that we use, are all inspired by things around us; our environment, whakataukī (Māori proverbs), a conversation … I’ll create those – through a drawing, a painting, a print – and from there we digitise them so that they can be recreated and screen-printed onto the textiles. The fabric is then manufactured by our beautiful Fair Trade organic team based in India. We follow the cotton all the way through its growing process – we’ve been in the fields, seen the spinning, the weaving, the printing, and the stitching – and we bring it all the way back here to NZ.
What do you love about what you do?
I love that it’s an opportunity for my own creative exploration and expression, but also that it really connects people in a way that I didn’t anticipate. I was creating something that I’d love, but it ended up resonating with others, too! The products have brought together a strong community of people with similar values and worldviews in a space where there’s lots of conversation and growth. And it’s had a beautiful flow-on effect that really impacts the community who manufactures it as well.
What’s the ethos of your company?
Aho started with a desire to start a business with our kaupapa Māori worldview, rather than starting from a business point of view – with products, profit margins, and those sorts of things. We realised, ‘If we want something to exist in the world, it needs to embody the things that we value’… and for me, that was kaitiakitanga – which is our responsibility to take care of the world and the world that our children will inherit. So in terms of production, it had to be organic, Fair Trade, and sustainable …
One of our key pillars we always go back to is our whakapapa – our sense of connection and belonging. Knowing where things come from and how they relate to us … knowing what our relationship is to them and what happens to them next. It’s about understanding the philosophy of our designs (and our connection to them) and also our supply chain. From where the cotton grows and our connection to that land (and how that land is connected to us by the choices we make as consumers), and what happens with those products after we’ve finished with them (what’s the impact for our descendants and our land here).
I realised that if I want a product to exist for myself and our whānau to use, I need to make it. But also, if we want businesses like this to exist, we need to drive them. We have to be the change that we want to see happening … we have to invest in the future that we want.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT AHO CREATIVE AND THEIR STUNNING CREATIONS AT AHOCREATIVE.COM